His dressing room is located further down the hall. His sweater bears a different team’s colors. And his command of the English language has greatly improved.
Other than that, Nikolay Zherdev is the same man who left Columbus on sour terms more than three years ago.
Monday morning, Zherdev was back at Nationwide Arena – his first home within the NHL. As he and the Flyers prepared for tonight’s game with his former team, the Blue Jackets, Zherdev and those around him reflected upon his tumultuous first years here.
And the one year after it.
“I remember the goal,” Zherdev said, smiling, “and the two assists.”
A soft-spoken player who offered up a half-dozen one-word answers, Zherdev had three points with the New York Rangers in a win Oct. 24, 2008, in his first homecoming. Tonight represents Round 2.
“I don’t know from a pure skill level if there’s anyone better than Niki Zherdev,” said Doug MacLean, the former Columbus general manager/president. “He had a terrible year in New York with the Rangers (in 2008-09) and he still led them in scoring.”
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